Tuesday, November 25, 2008

“Look at this,” Josiah called me over to the edge of the porch where he’d dropped his shovel while digging holes. A five-lined skink sprawled across his back. His sudden movement must have spooked the little fellow, since he scampered up over Josiah’s shoulder and disappeared down his sleeve. Truly disappeared since we couldn’t find him, though I peered under layers of shirts.

My poor head is filled with a fast and furious piano piece that I simply cannot get worked out my fingers. Parts of it come, but so much more is scrambled up somewhere between my mind and my ability. Will I ever possess enough skill to really express myself or am I just fooling myself and others?

Josiah interrupted my complaining composing with a complaint of his own. “Is he in there? That lizard. I think he’s up my shirt still—by my shoulder blade. Otherwise I’ve got some serious muscle spasms.” Compliantly I peeled his sweatshirt up and felt all over his back. Perhaps it was a secret ploy to get a back scratch. My fingers discovered nothing of the reptilian species. “I’m sure he’s not there,” I informed Josiah. “That was just after lunch. It’s been hours since then.”

Papa arrived home late from work, having run a half dozen errands on the way. That’s what happens when I don’t go into town. He walked through the door and greeted us cheerily. “What’s that lizard doing on the table?” And there he was, the little stowaway, sprawled placidly on the dinner table, critically examining our venison and cauliflower soup. Truly, the lizard you may grasp with the hand, but it is in king’s palaces.

Dissecting the scriptural record of Rahab the harlot, I was struck by her attitude of trust. “Faith is the evidence of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” scribbles the author of Hebrews. The description fits Rahab perfectly. Raised in a wicked city, leading a sinful life, she heard of Yahweh and His powerful works. While the rest of the city melted in terror, she hoped. Her certainty that Yahweh would prevail led her to receive His messengers in peace, risking her life to help them on their way. When she through herself upon the mercy of God, He regarded her humility and trust and offered His protection. In the beautiful unfolding of His redemption He saved her out of a wicked city devoted to destruction and made her to be a part of His people, and a thread in the scarlet cord of redemption leading to His Son. In a final tribute to her trust, the writer of Hebrews lists her beside the patriarchs and Moses, beside the prophets and judges as a hero of the faith. She was a low-down, filthy Canaanite prostitute, but she trusted in Yahweh and was not disappointed.

Lord, Thy scarlet thread of hope
Runs thickly through the tale Thou penned
Of love that runs more thick than blood
For men Thou made, though we have sinned.

And always is Thy mercy shown
To those who, helpless, seek Thy face
And dare to cling to threads of hope
That Thou wilt offer saving grace.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I nearly blushed as I called Sherry to let her know I wouldn’t make it in to Choices tomorrow. “I have a pretty badly sprained ankle,” I explained. “And I’m supposed to stay off of it.” “Now, Abigail, how did you do that?” she asked me. “Were you skateboarding?” She knew it would have to be active. Unusual. And unladylike. Actually, I was doing a toe-touch off the roof of the tool shed into a pile of leaves higher than my head. And I’d been doing it safely for the past several hours, along with Josiah, Tommy and Lydia. I’d even been cautious, stuck to dives and crazy jumps instead of flips like the boys were pulling. Perhaps the slow drizzle left the leaves a little slippery. At any rate, I’m holed up for the next couple of days, alternately heating and icing my right ankle and thinking of all the wonderful things I would rather be doing. “Poor Abby,” Tabby giggled over the phone when she found out my plight. “I’d hate to see how hyper you’ll be tomorrow.” Half way through the afternoon my ankle suddenly began to feel stifled. A raging rejection of inaction surged through it and it begged for freedom to stretch. I indulged it. Pain and relief flooded simultaneously. Even a bird with a broken wing still longs to fly. “You’re such an impatient patient,” Tabby chided. I felt as if the entire day had been wasted. At least I got the Pearls and Diamonds blog revamped, caught up and archived.

I’ve not scribbled faithfully since my laptop screen went out nearly three months ago. I quit writing and I started talking. Suddenly all the thoughts and feelings and emotions I’ve been charting and graphing in the pages of my journal had nowhere to go. So they started spilling out my mouth. For the past several months I’ve felt as though I am teetering on the dangerous precipice of revealing my heart. My family has heard more of my frightening mind than in the rest of my life! And my mind is undoubtedly more frightening these days. Confusion reigns supreme. I’ve given up on making plans. Or even goals. Or even dreams. Right now I could fling my possessions to the wind and leap onto a plane headed for Alaska—if it weren’t for my ankle.

Who knows? Tomorrow I might do just that. Things change that quickly, you know.

Like Tabitha. When Cliff appeared on the scene over the summer she worried and fretted and avoided. “Just be his friend,” I encouraged her. “Just be his friend,” her dad encouraged her. Then suddenly she knew for sure he was interested. And just as suddenly her fear melted like the morning mist and was gone, replaced by wonder. Then curiosity. Then friendship. And now courtship. He can hardly concentrate on anything. While she was gone for two weeks he pined away and lost weight. He pours cereal in his cup and milk in the cereal box. He calls her every night he can’t see her and sees her every night her parents will allow him in the house. And he knows all about me, since I’m her best friend. Things just happen that fast.

Our family has grown. She might be Jack Russell Terrier or she might just be a mutt that happens to look and behave like a Jack Russell, but she’s captured our hearts from the first day she came slinking up to the back window, pleading for acceptance. Another stray and we’ve taken her in and are trying to train her. Isn’t that just how we always do? “What are we going to call that dog?” Papa asked the day after she arrived and we all knew we’d be keeping her. Later, he dubbed her Freckles. “Chase me,” she begs with every fiber of her body as soon as we step out the door. “Come play with me!” Mom was hanging laundry on the line when Freckles swiped a stocking cap from the basket and led Mom on a wild chase through the meadow. But when it comes to a trek through the woods, she’s all business—alert, silent and as stealthy as a Comanche. We walk outside in the morning and whistle, eager to see her wriggling form come dancing from under the porch—well, half of the porch. She’s already established. Things just happen that quickly.

Glenn’s been down twice in the past few months—the first time with just his boys to work on the house. Just a couple of weeks ago he brought his whole family for a week-long stay. Little Hannah kept me laughing constantly and Rachel was a closed book that slowly opened to let me peek inside. I’ve never seen anything like her piano playing. She plays so hard the piano weeps with exhaustion. I wept when I thought of wearing skirts the entire week—in the cold, in the rain, all day, every day. Skirts just aren’t my thing. But I made it. Joyfully, even, I do believe. And only half cold most of the time. The poor Schriebers all left sniveling, coughing and snorting. And they left the deck half torn off.

Poor Josiah was left in charge of building it back and it has proven to be nothing short of toil and tears, frustration and frenzy. In short, it will build in him godly character or drive him insane.

Amber and her mom have switched places entirely. Judy has come face to face with the saving grace of the Lord and has dived in head-first. She’s listened through the entire New Testament and spends time in prayer. The highlight of her day is her daily phone call with Mom, reviewing her over her memory verses. Amber on the other hand is struggling between the forces of good and evil. Of course, in some way or another, aren't we all? And I blame myself for her spiritual dryness. It seems I have an uncanny way of assuming anything that is not perfect, easy or beautiful is a fault of mine. I forget that Yahweh is in perfect control.

Exciting news rolls in from Tulsa with Nathaniel and Lauren and their church family. The Lord is casting His shadow across their little church and stirring them up to obedience. The men are taking serious steps to make Him the center, the church is reaching out to the surrounding neighborhoods, spreading the gospel and seeking to disciple. Several families have decided to headcover and more are interested in studying First Corinthians. “If this is how the church should be,” one man said during small group, “how do we do it?”

With Papa’s crazy work schedule, only having a holiday every other weekend, our meeting has switched over to Saturday night. The positive is that we often have more than just our family and Nick. The negative is that there is very little fellowship afterwards and no one comes out during the week or on Sunday anymore. Loneliness is curling it’s long, icy fingers around our little home.

Lord, change is just a part of living,
Part of Thy plan’s perfect giving,
Yet throughout eternity
There is no changing found in Thee.

This is such a comfort here,
Among the days of doubt and fear
To know Thou art always the same.
And knowing, praise Thy changeless name.

Friday, October 3, 2008

“Trust in Yahweh with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes, fear Yahweh and turn from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.” ~Proverbs 3:5-8

Has it only been a year since I drove the dusty Tempo from the S Family’s house, down Crooked Branch Road and up our driveway for the first time? Only a year is gone and yet gone is a year of death and resurrection, of old and new, of past and present. Gone far behind us is Papa’s “ideal” job at Parkway Dental. Gone also the little home fellowship we began with the S Family. Gone are the days when I babysat for four blond, energetic kiddos. Gone are the days when I hung out on campus in the Sweetest Suite or walked into the Cafeteria at the side of Lauryn or Jacinda. Gone are Friday nights with Taylor and Nathan or Sunday afternoons with the gang. Gone are Wes and Audrey and their little Wednesday night Bible study. Because life doesn’t stay the same and things move on and people change.

Before me lies a future no more certain than the past has been, yet full of hope. Resurrected are my once buried dreams to live among the people lost in darkness that I might be able to show to them the true light. In a few months, my whole life has become a perfect preparation, a surprising equipping to do exactly what I’ve always desired—serve the low-income, low-education, sin-trapped people of the urban United States as serving Christ. Recreated are my relationships with my family—my father is my trusted friend, my mother has become a sensitive confidant, Josiah is a brother I can lean on and Lydia is a sister in Christ.

And Yahweh, in His supreme wisdom has been teaching me about wasted emotion—especially anxiety. My emotions, He reminds me constantly, are given as a precious treasure, to worship and enjoy Him forever. Yet how often I squander them in fear, guilt, anger, confusion, frustration and worry. What will tomorrow bring? Once Jesus sat on a sunny slope in the land of Israel and boldly proclaimed that it doesn’t matter! Quit worrying about tomorrow, He reminds me. Tomorrow has plenty of worries of its own. Instead of being wasteful of my emotions, I am to turn them to singing and praising and offering thanks. Then I will worship and enjoy Yahweh, even as He has intended. I turn to glance behind me at the past year, thinking how much emotion I have wasted worrying about situations that seemed cloudy or unclear, how many tears I spent weeping because I didn’t have the answers to quiet my soul. That was never what Yahweh intended. He intended me to enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise, saying each day was the day He had made. I will rejoice for He has made me glad!

A year of death and resurrection. And isn’t that the meaning of life? The sting of death is only in hopelessness, but while there is life there is hope. My hope is in knowing the Lord works all things for the good of those who love Him. To this promise I confidently cling and plunge ahead through each day, wondering what He’ll do next. But not allowing that question to consume me.

What will He do next?

Lord, Thou sought to teach me trust,
Faith in Thy good word is a must,
Yet often I flung down Thy word
And turned to other sounds I heard:

The sounds of fear and worry’s call
That tempted me to slip and fall
Yet Thou were always near to save
And resurrect me from each grave.

It's almost 2009...

And Josiah has encouraged me several times not to abandon this poor, little, lost blog. He wants me to start posting again from my journals...which is actually a little frightening. Not nearly so much now that no one is reading along...:) So I've revamped, reformatted, and I think I'll start rewriting.

Blessings in the Beloved Son of God,

Miss Abigail Joy